I first went to Amsterdam back in 2014 with a big group from my university halls. It was a last minute trip thrown together for no reason out that ‘why not?’, and I remember it all as a bit of a blur; not only because it was such a huge group of us, but also because it was so long ago. Since I’ve met my boyfriend, we’ve always said that we wanted to go to Amsterdam. So, as a birthday treat, I thought I would surprise him with tickets to the little town. I contemplated between a two or three day break – but remembered from my last visit that although Amsterdam is fun – there’s not tons to do there, and that two days would suffice. The last time I went to Amsterdam it was blisteringly cold and rainy in February, this time the weather was a lot better, making it a lot more enjoyable, and it was nice to get the chance to go back and soak up the unique city.
As per my typical luck – my camera turned itself on in my bag on the way to Amsterdam and completely drained itself of battery. So, instead of some crisp DSLR photos – enjoy these sub-par iPhone 6s photos instead!
We set off for Amsterdam on a 6.30am flight (which was over half an hour delayed, always to be expected by EasyJet…) from London Gatwick. The last time I went to Amsterdam, I was shocked at how quick the journey was – it’s literally a 45 minutes journey from airport to airport – as soon as you take off, you’re getting ready for landing again in the next 20 minutes. What’s also perfect is that Amsterdam is only one hour ahead, so you don’t lose much time (and on the return flight, you actually gain time as we’re an hour behind).
The airport of course had its own train station, and figuring out how to get from the train to the city was surprisingly easy. And – for all those confused – they had a number of information booths scattered around the airport. We decided to go with a 48 hour tram ticket, just to get us in and around the city easily if we were to ever get lazy with walking. From the airport to the city (and to our Airbnb which was very close to the centre of ‘Dam) it was less than a half an hour journey. Obviously, upon arrival at our Airbnb around 11am, we were absolutely knackered from the early wake and journey, so ended up knocked out for a good couple of hours until the afternoon, where we finally set off into the city centre…
Day one consisted of a lot of wandering around. Amsterdam isn’t necessarily one of those city breaks where you have a list of landmarks you want to visit and tick off of your map as you explore the city. It’s more of a city just to enjoy the vibes (the people there are really nice and chilled), relax, and explore – as it is a beautiful city in terms of their houses and of course, their canals. We stopped off first in Dam square where we grabbed some lunch, then had a wander around the area taking some photos as we went by and trying to pick out unknowing victims to help us get some photos together. Our wandering took us to the Anne Frank museum which I’d been ranting and raving about since I bought the ticket to Amsterdam back in April – but the queue was humongous – it literally curved around the payment. Whilst we were talking about how shocked we were about the queue, a girl told us that advance tickets for the museum had been sold out for three months – and that the wait otherwise to get in could be more than three hours. Obviously, I was not going to stand in a line for three hours. But a note to anyone who also wants to visit Anne Frank’s house – book your ticket way in advance.
With Anne Frank’s house out of the way, we decided to do something a lot less cultured – as every does when they go to Amsterdam: we went to the sex museum. I’d already gone the last time I went to Amsterdam with my uni friends, but I wanted to bring my boyfriend along (whose first time it was in Amsterdam) – because, did you really go to Amsterdam if you didn’t even visit the sex museum? After the museum, we went to go and have some chill time in a bar for a bit for a little bit before heading to the Satellite Sports Cafe which is famous for their 11 euro all-you-can-eat ribs. Typically, when faced with the luxury of all you can eat ribs: I could only finish half of my first rack of ribs and three quarters of my bowl of chips – a truly poor show.
We explored a bit more after this, waiting for the sun to set, and then took on the Red Light District. When I last went to Amsterdam – we visited the RLD during the day, which really does not have the same shocking effect. So I promised myself that I’d come back to ‘Dam one day and see the RLD in all its glory at night time. It was absolutely packed – you could barely move around freely as there were people at every inch of that district – it definitely made the RLD seem most of a tourist frenzy than anything else. If you’re going to Amsterdam – I’d definitely recommend checking out the RLD at night time. You’ll literally never see anything like it (or anything as crazy/shocking) – anywhere else.
We got home on day one around 12am-1am, and so knocked out from the long day, we fell right asleep.
On the morning of day two, we spent some time chilling in our Airbnb before going out to grab some brunch at a burger joint we passed on the way into the city. After being recommended it by so many people – we then did a canal boat cruise and tour of ‘Dam. I learned two interesting facts about ‘Dam: one – that the houses are slanted due to the way the city was built over the canals. And two – that they have hundreds of boat homes. People literally live in boats in the canals (we saw a few with functioning kitchens, people watching TVs, etc. and keep in mind these are tiny boats!); the boat homes all came around due to a housing shortage some years back (and no more boat homes are allowed to be built going forward). If I’m honest, under the heat of the sun – I ended up falling asleep during the last quarter of an hour of the tour.
After the tour we did some more exploring and headed down to the I Amsterdam sign. As was to be expected, it was absolutely crowded – and trying to get a letter to yourself proved a near impossible task. In fact, sometimes even if you did get a letter to yourself for some photos, someone would very quickly attach themselves to the end of that letter to get their own shots. Nonetheless, the weather was great, the vibes were good, and after getting some photos we went again to grab a couple of drinks at the Heineken bar nearby.
After a bit of time, we headed back to the Airbnb, chilled for a bit, before grabbing and bags and preparing for the journey back to London.
I definitely love city breaks just due to how quick and efficient they are as a means to getting a breather away from London but not having to plan a week-long, summer holiday. I definitely want to do more going forwards, especially as it can be so cheap and quick to fly just around Europe. I also must admit, my boyfriend is my favourite person to travel with, so I always get severe holiday blues whenever we come back from a holiday together. It was only a two day trip less than a week ago and I can honestly say I seriously miss it!
Onto the next one – and wanting to book something very hot and very beachy some time soon!